On 30 May 2020, 202 new and rehabilitated houses for families whose homes were damaged or destroyed two years ago by flooding were handed over to their owners in an official ceremony.

The “Project for the Support for Improving Living Environment and Disaster Prevention Capacity in Cambodia”  was funded by the Government of Japan and implemented by Cambodia’s General Department of Housing (GDH), Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction and UN-Habitat in Cambodia. It involved community members’ active participation in the rehabilitation process, used their traditional knowledge and skills and promoted community ownership. Through the project, additional 104 houses were reconstructed; and 98 houses were repaired.

One beneficiary, Duth Chhundy said: “When we are in solidarity with others in the community, we can gain a lot of benefits. Together, we’ll try to be well prepared for future disasters.”

The year long project in Tboung Khmum District, Tboung Khmum aimed to help communities recover from the effects of the tropical storm Son-Tinh in 2018 which caused heavy flooding. It also looked at strengthening the resilience of the flood affected population through disaster preparedness measures.

With Japanese experience with water related disasters, H.E. Ambassador Masahiro Mikami, Embassy of Japan in Cambodia, said, “It is important not to try and design infrastructure that offers ‘100%’ protection from future flood disasters because there is no ‘100%’ when it comes to natural disasters.  Instead, we must develop and prioritize systems that protect human lives and facilitate fast reconstruction in the event of a natural disaster.  From this perspective we were very impressed by this project’s ‘Community ownership’ approach to reconstruction with the participation of local people and materials.”

Based on UN-Habitat’s expertise and experience in post-disaster recovery in Asia and the Pacific region, the project was implemented using the People’s Process approach, a community-driven rebuilding approach which trains members of households whose homes were destroyed to rebuild their homes and communities.

“This resilient housing project in Tboung Khmum is the first-ever project in Cambodia to recover from the disaster and improve the livelihood at the same time through the Build Back Better approach,“ said H.E Benghong Socheat Khemero, Director General of GDH.  Having the idea to scale up this initiative to the entire country, he continued, “We would like also to consider introducing home-stays for tourists in this area, building on this project.  I believe it will be a great journey for visitors to experience local culture, sustainable lifestyle, and disaster preparedness.”

Having a new house which is resilient to natural hazards and climate change impact, another beneficiary, Ms. Yok Ammey said “Even in the rainy season, I don’t have to worry about losing my house again.”